However, the third-year quarterback, for whom the 49ers traded two first-round picks and a third-rounder to move up and select at No. 3 overall in 2021, opened up somewhat about the process at OTAs this week. Lance also injured a finger on his throwing hand during his rookie season, which he said impacted his delivery.
“Probably towards the end of March, I would say, is when I was 100 percent,” Lance told the team’s website. “The finger was probably a past thing throughout this whole (ankle) rehab process. I felt like it got to that point, pretty close to that point, after my rookie year, after that offseason.”
Lance took first-team reps during the 49ers’ first open OTA practice. Coach Kyle Shanahan expects Sam Darnold, whom the team signed early in free agency, to also get reps with the starters.
Brock Purdy, who Shanahan said is the front-runner to be the starting quarterback, has not participated in OTAs as he recovers from elbow surgery. Purdy’s return date has yet to be determined.
The More Development Time, The Better
Injuries have robbed Lance of significant development time during his first two seasons, and it shows, according to longtime NFL coach Mike Martz, an analyst for The 33rd Team.
“He’s not quick with the ball, and it doesn’t look like he knows the offense very well. He’s searching around,” Martz said. “Young guys who track receivers, which he does, get right to their No. 1 receiver with their eyes. In a zone that pulls everyone to that side, which is detrimental.
“He’s slow, and he’s not a confident guy. It just looks like he doesn’t know it well enough. … Maybe over time, he gets there. Lance is a long way away right now.”
It’s also possible Lance could be on his way out of San Francisco. A report surfaced before the NFL Draft in April that the 49ers were receiving calls about trading Lance.
“Because he has such a limited background I’d think you’d want to hang onto him because he didn’t have a whole lot of college play time (17 starts),” Martz added. “If you kept him around for a couple or three years and he got where he knew the offense well it could work out.
“The thing that bothers me is he does something that guys who can’t play do. They track receivers, and it’s so hard to break them of that habit. These quarterbacks don’t want to get their eyes downfield and then get the ball out really quickly. They want to see where everything is, where they’re going to throw the ball. You can’t do that in the NFL.”
“I’m really just trying to be where my feet are, trying to live in this moment and be as present as I possibly can,” he said.